By Meng Yuan
The Riverhead Farmer’s Market, an indoor retail that provided local food in winter, closed on October 2nd after four years of serving the downtown Riverhead area.
The market got its yearly rent paid upfront by the Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association (BID). But BID decided to stop funding the space because the market was losing money, Lucy Senesac, farm manager of Sang Lee Farms and one of the oldest participating vendors, said.
“The Riverhead Business district was kind of supporting the market. But they didn’t have enough budget this year to do that, so it’s really a matter of cost,” Senesac said.
The Market was an important place for some residents to access farm foods in the winter. There are no other Farmer’s markets in winter around Riverhead.
“It’s upsetting the Farmer’s Market will be closing,” Debra Dolber, who lives in East Moriches in Suffolk County and is a customer of the Market, said. “I try to buy local organic vegetables and our options are limited over the winter. It’s nice to have fresh local choices like the cheeses, bread and even Southampton Soap that I love to purchase for last minute gifts.”
Sang Lee Farms sold food in the Market since almost the beginning of running the Market and about 25 vendors sold their products last season, Senesac said.
“We have a lot of Riverhead customers. We are very sad that Riverhead BID isn’t able to hold a Farmer’s market this year,” Bridget LeRoy, co-owner of Chaga lsland, one of the vendors in the market, said. “We only sell at Farmer’s markets, so we have to reorganize and figure out what to do.”
The Market also provided certified organic products, local fresh fish, and local wine and beverages, according to the market’s website.
“The Riverhead market was a wonderful source of local organic produce in the winter,” Kathleen Johnson, who lives in Center Moriches in Suffolk County and is an old customer of the market, said. “I have made a commitment to eat organic food as much as possible, as well as supporting local businesses and farms. I will be sorry to see it close.”
Some vendors have teamed up to find a solution. Rosie’s Country Baking, one of the participating vendors, called on everyone on Facebook to bring help the vendors to find a new space for the winter market.
“We are searching for something more community-run that we can do the marketing and do not have to pay such high rent or find some organizations that will help support financially so we can use the same building,” Senesac said.